Atalanta captain cries foul after calls to fight match-fixing

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The Independent Football

Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni has demanded the creation of a special task force to combat corruption in Italian football, amid a new series of damaging allegations.

Sixteen people were arrested last week over suspected involvement with match-fixing and a betting ring, and Maroni believes that increased police involvement is necessary. "We want to determine the best ways for prevention and repression of clandestine betting on football matches," he said.

The allegations concern 18 games, mainly in Serie B, which were investigated by a Cremona-based tribunal that concluded last night. Matches involving Atalanta, promoted to Serie A for the coming season, are under close scrutiny but the club's captain, Cristiano Doni, says he is being unfairly targeted in the investigation.

"They want to make me the scapegoat in this story," said Doni. "I don't accept this. They are making me feel like a monster. They are damaging me. My name and that of Atalanta stand out from the rest of the media. It is a bigger story. The other players that have been arrested or are under investigation are either former players or are smaller fish to fry."

The former Italy striker Giuseppe Signori is the most high-profile figure to have been arrested so far, along with other executives and bookmakers. "Have some mercy," said Signori to an Italian news service, "I can't say anything. I will meet my lawyer and then he will speak for me."

Prosecutor Guido Salvini accused Signori of being the "undisputed leader" of the betting ring, "due to personal prestige, in the Bologna area". He is said to have bet €150,000 on an Internazionale v Lecce game last year.